Brian McLaren, in his blogpost, “The Church and the Solution,” tells of something extraordinary happening on an ordinary Sunday.
…A typical Sunday: the music was good; the sermon made him think, even provided ‘a little pick me up;’ the prayers were moving; he was glad to see people, and they were glad to see him.
What stood out for him, he explained, was a family seated next to him whom he did not know. A dad, a mom, a daughter and a son. Based on the boy’s movements and the attentions given him by his mother and sister, the son seemed to have some form of autism, maybe Asperger’s syndrome.
McLaren was impressed by the family’s caring ability to gently help the boy through the service. And he was touched by the boy’s enthusiasm for worship.
But how the boy practiced worship was not just McLaren’s blessing, but his transformation.
When it came to the time of the offering, the little boy “didn’t have money, but when I handed him the basket, he bowed toward it. At first, I thought he was reverencing the basket as if it were an icon or some other holy thing.
But then he leaned forward even more, placing the basket on his knees and nearly touching his forehead to the checks, bills, and envelopes inside. His family didn’t intervene, as if this were his normal routine. Then he sat up again and handed the basket to his mother.
Suddenly, it dawned on me: he was putting himself in the offering basket, diving in head-first, if you will. And this must be what he does every week…”
The little boy, different from most of the other worshipers, created his own ritual that was more pointed than the church’s tradition of using the offering of money as a representation for giving your life.
McLaren explains, all of a sudden, “I was awash in a baptism of grace.”
This whole season of Epiphany is illuminated by the light of Christ spreading across the world. But it’s colored by the gifts of the Magi. But rather than the gold, wasn’t their real gift going out of their way to go to the Christ child? Their willingness to walk the distance… dedicate the time it took to make the trip to an other?
Wise ones know the real gift is giving oneself. Generosity isn’t about the material gifts we can offer. Or their value. Instead, the gift is a symbol, an outward sign, a reflection of our giving ourselves.
The Christian life is about discovering what it really means to give of oneself. That’s what being wise is about too. And what God in Jesus is trying to show us the way to do… to discover how to give of yourself in love for another.
See you Sunday in church (where we’ll celebrate the gift of Kristen and Hans’ daughter, Freja, with her baptism, marking and blessing her journey learning how to love!),
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